Ecotherapy is a relatively new term to express an ancient concept: using nature's therapeutic power to heal oneself. Before research demonstrated how nature positively impacts people's wellbeing, we were already aware of the benefits of spending time in a natural environment. However, in a society where isolation is becoming an issue, ecotherapy offers a safe environment to spend time with others and build connections.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1. Questions About Ecotherapy?
Ecotherapy is a therapeutic method that combines nature, mental health and physical wellbeing. Practised with a trained ecotherapist, it combines the benefits of a therapeutic framework, added to the bonus of being outdoors.
Being in contact with nature has always been known to be beneficial; an ecotherapist helps develop a more mindful way to be in nature, allowing you to gain better insights into yourself and your surroundings.
This exploration helps us become more mindful and widen our self-perception.
2. How does Eco-therapy support mental health?
We naturally relax when in contact with nature. We instinctively possess a natural awe for nature and its magnificent perfection; connecting to nature helps us feel part of a bigger picture. Simply by being close to a body of water or in a forest, the mind moves on a different level of perception, allowing it to relax more quickly, and a relaxed state supports overcoming challenging feelings.
An ecotherapist may use mindfulness, sense of place, positive psychology, and meditation to build the foundations for healing.
Feeling connected to something greater than the self is a fundamental human need, whether this is family, a group, religion or the universe.
3. Does nature positively affect everyone?
Apparently yes. Studies conducted on this topic in the last decades show an exciting result. The power of nature is restorative for everyone, regardless of age, gender, culture, and beliefs. The language spoken between nature and humans is universal and has been ever-present. This perspective alone gives us a sense of how powerful nature is.
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.”
4. How does this restorative language work?
There are different theories about this topic. The main belief is that we evolved in nature, which has been our ancestors' environment for thousands of years, strongly impacting our genetic heritage. Even if some natural events can be scary, nature is where our ancestors got shelter and food from. All past cultures greatly respected nature and used to worship their environment and its manifestations.
Evolution taught us to trust and feel at home in nature.
5. Can Ecotherapy be practised only outdoors?
Questions are not only about outdoor ecotherapy activities. While being outdoors is a common and beneficial way to experience ecotherapy, there are numerous indoor alternatives for those unable to venture outside. Activities such as potting plants for the balcony, creating mandalas with materials gathered from the garden, spending time with a pet, and assembling scrapbooks with natural elements are just a few ways to practice ecotherapy indoors.
Furthermore, even watching pictures or videos of nature for just five minutes daily (increasing this time is even better) has been shown to improve a sense of positivity and calmness.
These are only five good reasons to take advantage of nature's calming effect and benefit from its positive impact on all of us.
“...and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
Vincent Willem van Gogh
Find your way to interact with nature!
When the power of nature is not enough, and extra help is needed, find a trusted friend or family member to talk to.
If you feel you need help to overcome a difficult time and don't have someone you feel you can talk to, reach out. Contact a helpline, a support group, or a professional. Your GP or a counsellor can make a difference in your wellbeing.
Build Your Safe Space offers two types of Ecotherapy services: Walk and Talk Therapy and Therapy in the Park; both are practised outdoors. If the weather doesn't play along, the session can be postponed or moved to a face-to-face session.
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